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flowers, roller coasters, football & cake

since school has started i am missing my lazy mornings on the deck.
and this is totally sad because it’s PERFECT out there!
nice cool breeze and the flowers are growing like bonkers.
i have never grown hibiscus before.
i thought it was a tropical flower or something but i picked it up at our nursery and it’s done so well!
it’s very fancy pants and dramatic.

two weeks ago craig took the kids to Kansas City for a Royals game & Worlds of Fun.
i don’t like roller coasters.
not at all.
i did some when i was younger but i have more memories of sickness and no memories of enjoying a roller coaster.
once in jr. high at a carnival i had a huge screaming meltdown to “STOP THE RIDE!!!” because i would surely die in the next two minutes if not.
they let me off.
it wasn’t my finest moment.
i also have slight (major) hysteria about haunted houses but we can save that for another post.
and we won’t even talk about the vomiting.
the last time i rode a roller coaster was when annie was a baby.
i gave it one last shot.
i hated it.
i was positive the headline would read “Mother of 5 Dies on Roller Coaster… who will care for her children now?”
i said “i am done with these forever.”
the end.
so… i don’t go to Worlds of Fun because craig & i don’t think we should pay $40 for me to walk around for 8 hours.
and that means i got to stay home!
A L O N E.
talk about dreamy right?
i even got an over night at home alone!!!
it was absolutely the best.
i love my family to the max but alone time is so good for recharging me!
and my kids had a blast!
craig sent me this picture from the Royals game… they are pretty cute!

i did some meal prep and i worked on curtains for the craft house.


later in the week i pulled weeds, cut down dead flowers at the craft house and i cut these pretty ones too!
i also cleaned the kitchen. (obviously)
because this is NOT how it normally looks 98% of the time.
Talby started 8th grade.  Annie joined the middle school by starting 5th grade!
didn’t i just blog about how scared she was that first day of kindergarten?!!
whether i like it or not… school started.
the boys were already gone at morning football practice so i didn’t get a photo of them.
volleyball is going for the girls and this year my boys are on the same team in football!
this has never happened.
i can’t wait!
scott is a senior (whaaaat?!!) and Sean is a freshman.
these are scott’s senior buddies.
it’s fun (and kind of crazy!) to watch them turn into men right before our eyes!
friday night was a scrimmage and next week the real games start.
i made a new schedule for me for working out… i am a visual person.
i like to check stuff off.
and as you can see i am a month away from the big 4-0.
oy veh.

annie loves to bake and i suggested a back-to-school cake.
she searched pinterest for chocolate cake and landed on this one but only the cake.
we made the frosting by melting half a bag of chocolate chips and adding that to powdered sugar.
because that was all we had.
and it was delicious!!

but just wanted to be sure you saw THE REAL kitchen too…not just the clean version.
stanley also likes when annie bakes.  :)

this week i am working hard on everything for Camp Create.
it’s coming up quick!
and my 21st anniversary is happening on thursday!
and games start for talby and the boys.
it’s going to be a really good week… i have already decided.  ha ha ha

today i am meal prepping again.
and maaaybe a quick nap.

marli - i love that you shared both versions of your kitchen! and your littlest in 5th grade?!?!? cray. i still remember watching the video of her reading the giant squid book. precious!!!

Heather S. - WOW – just realized that means you were 18(!!!!) when you got married. That is super young! We were 21 when we got married and took a TON of flack for it (despite having dated since we were 15).

Lorieloo - Well. I found a flaw in our friendship.
I love me some rollercoasters.
Did you know we had a friendship?
Has Tara outed me on that yet?
Maybe I should just stop talking now.
Ok, bye. Happy Monday.

Rae - I am a long-time follower and I was wondering if you’d give us some advice on mothering boys? My oldest son has completely undone any thinking I had about raising boys. I was totally unprepared for the emotions and drama. He is a first-grader and I am always surprised when he meltdowns over something. I expect this from my daughter — but not him. I am told this is not uncommon. I grew up with all girls and have no baseline with what is normal boy behavior. Since you have two in high school — any advice on how to survive the elementary/middle school years? For either boys or girls? :)

Gevay - Family life is so fun! Everyone is so much older than when I first starting reading the blog. Time goes so fast.

Melanie Sidwell - I just love Annie’s cheetah shirt! Where did you get it? My new 6th grader loves big cats and would wear a shirt like this with pride.

Tobi Layton - I love this post for so many (sort of weird) reasons! 1) My ultimate fantasy is a day (or two, or six) in my own home alone! 2) My kitchen has multiple personalities, too, and 3) Your kids go to my alma mater! I just happened upon your blog by coincidence, but it’s so cool to see familiar faces and places! Coach S. used to be my track coach and my brothers played football for him, too! Small world!

Jenn - I feel exactly the same way about roller coasters and most rides, even Ferris Wheels. I’m going to die, plan and simple.

Your flowers are beautiful!

40’s awesome! Now 42 (me), not so great! I’m embracing it. What else are ya gonna do 😉

ileana - I love your kitchen! Where did you find that cute basket with the napkins in it?

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vacation – part two

the house that we were in was just up the beach but also had a stream next to it (way down a high ledge) that fed into the lake.
so everyday we would come out to the beach and see how the stream had changed.
it was different everyday because of rains at night.
our rental house is the dark one in the trees just above annie’s head.

i brought my rainbow sun hat that i got in gulf shores alabama.  :)

everyone’s favorite thing to do in the water is wave crash.
we had several days of good waves.
of course i prefer it calm but i don’t ever get in the water so i doesn’t really matter.
one night we packed up and drove to the La Porte Co. Fair for some entertainment.
we watched a pig judging contest, a lawn mower demolition derby, a figure 8 race, gambled on mouse roulette, ate at a church fundraiser and ate funnel cakes.  it was good old fashioned fun!

we always go bowling.
because it’s inexpensive… it’s fun… and all ages enjoy it.
Team Hot Moms win again!
no dishes for us!
big kids are so silly.
i didn’t think it would be very fun having a house full of big kids… i love babies so much.
i am so glad i was wrong!!!
they are so much fun!

and we always play wiffle ball.
this year they played on the beach!


why do boys love to wrestle so much?
please notice how empty the beaches are.
that is the only family we saw all week… and they were leaving when we got there.
people walk by throughout the day but there is NO ONE at the beach.
and that is why i love michigan.
i LOVE that there are no crowds and it is gorgeous every where you look!
football on the beach passed a lot of time for scott.
being 17 on vacation with your family may not be the most fun thing you could be doing but he was really fun to be with!
i liked hanging out with him… almost like another grown up was there.  football2annieheartannie found me so many heart shaped rocks!
i came home with a pocketful!

on our last day we had craft time because it’s ME!
we kept it simple and painted sticks, rocks and pinecones from the beach.
it was easy and sweet.
we came home with some pretty souvenirs.IMG_1399IMG_2969
every vacation we take a group photo.
oh my goodness have they grown!!!IMG_2970IMG_2976
dave and jenny!!! you guys are the best!
thanks for being such a sweet friends… for sharing your vacation time with us… for being hilarious… for loving our kids…. and a hundred other things.  we love you!

we packed up and drove the 12 hours back home.
it’s far.
and we get tired.
but it is SO worth it!
taking time away together is something we are very intentional about with our kids.
every trip has meant so much.

(and YAY for waaaaay less hiking this year compared to yellowstone! ha ha ha)

Amy M in Indiana - Great Vacation! We were at the LaPorte Co Fair one night –I would have freaked if I had seen you –it would have been like seeing a celebrity!

Gina - I love to see your vacation photos!! We have always stayed in a beach house on the NC coast but I am intrigued about Lake Michigan. The salt water bothers me and there’s that whole “shark” thing too. :/ I had no idea the lake could have waves until I saw pictures (maybe yours :) ) a couple of years ago. Just curious how cold the water is? I may not ever make it a week long vacay since it is farther that the ocean but I would love to visit some time in my life. :) I love following 33shadesofgreen on Instagram for her photos of lake Michigan!! :)

Amy K. - I never dreamed that you could have a beach and a stream right next to each other like that – my kids would LOVE IT!

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - This is so awesome! I love the painted rocks. You made me want to go to Michigan!

Kirsten - Perfection. Can you email me the rental information? It looks perfect.

Sive - I enjoyed reading this so much, reminded me of your posts a few years back. I love that you can enjoy a vacay with your teenagers, my kids are very small yet but it kills me to think we couldn’t holiday together in ten years time…anyway, beautiful photos, Great post, hope the comedown wasn’t awful!

teresa - I’m so glad you had such a fabulous time in Michigan – It’s where I live! I would have loved to stop by to say “hello” (not too long of a visit – wouldn’t want to interrupt your family vacation).

Rachel V - Loooove that you come to Michigan for vacation! My hubby and I are from Grand Rapids — about 30 min east of the lake — and we feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful place! So glad you love it! 😊

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vacation 2015 – part one

my favorite week of the summer is vacation week.
i get craig and my kids all to myself.  :)
we get to just hang out with our kids all week and do only fun things!
no chores!  no work!  no sports!
it’s a sacred week for me.
i look forward to it for 51 weeks a year!

our kids had been begging to go back to The City Museum in St. Louis so we decided to stay one night in St. Louis on our way to Michigan.  The City Muesem is SO COOL!  Our kids were off running around the whole time and i literally sat in a chair and chilled… for hours.  I had no need to go down a 10 story slide or crawl under floors.  They came back soaked with sweat and happy as can be.
if you have never gone to the City Museum… YOU HAVE TO DO IT.
i mean it.

that is sean… up in a tiny wire cage 11 stories above the ground.
i was having heart palpitations just getting this photo.
he said “WHY? You’re not even up here?!”
fear of heights is a weird thing… it’s not logical.
but it’s so crazy real!

we also had a very VERY hot and sweaty trip to the St. Louis Zoo… along with about a million other people.
we didn’t last too long.
it’s a BEAUTIFUL zoo!  AND it’s FREE!
but it was soooo hot and soooo crowded that we took off pretty quickly.

annie had been looking forward to going to Fitz’s for their famous root beer floats again.
they did not disappoint.
we went late afternoon and every one got their own HUGE float and then we ate pizza at about 10 PM.
so it was basically ice cream for dinner.
(another thing i love about vacation…)
mine was called the Loop Da Loop – root beer with coffee ice cream & chocolate sauce.
i loved it.

in the morning we loaded back up and hit the road towards Michigan.
the big van we use for Craft Weekend is so good for vacation!
everyone gets their own row!
but sometimes they share a spot to play games or watch dvds together.
the boys just lay down and sleep.
not complaining about that one bit.

everyone asked on every instagram picture “where do you stay?”
and we all thought it was funny because anywhere along the water all the way up michigan is awesome.
it’s all so nice.
we tend to stay near St. Joseph area because it’s what we know best.
we get on and find a place… like a year ahead of time.
its always a gamble… and this year the house was less than stellar in MANY ways… except the location could cancel all of the other things out.
we were right on the beach!
we didn’t have to go up or down 213 stairs to get to the beach or the house.
that was really great!
within minutes the kids were in the water and happy as can be.

we share a house with our friends from Illinois when we go to michigan.
it’s a special friendship when you know you can handle a week in close quarters with 6-7 kids.
this was our sixth vacation together!
the first thing we do is go get groceries… without kids or dads.
we figure out what we are cooking for the week and work through our list.
it takes forever but then we are set for the week!
all these kids just keep growing up!
so rude.
we almost always end up going on vacation over the week of sean’s birthday.
so on his big 15th birthday we let him choose our activity.
and then he even beat everybody!  they definitely weren’t letting him win either.
everyone was trying really hard to get in front but sean won on his birthday.
i like that.
and then we played mini golf too!
for all of our activities, Dave had us pair up in teams to compete for washing the dishes that day.
ha ha ha
no one ever chose to be with me or with Jenny! i guess because we are the moms? but guess which team won every ativity?!! Team: Hot Moms! That’s right!  We dominated at all activities and were off Dish Duty all week.  :)
on our way we drove by this crazy place and i begged to stop.
because… duh.
it was part statue store – part junk yard.

i was in love with the old signs!IMG_2786IMG_2802IMG_2783

i’m trying to convince scott to use this for his senior photo in the year book.  :)


we went to Chili’s for sean’s birthday dinner and rushed back to have birthday cake on the deck before the sunset.

i sure do like that 15 year old guy.
he is nice.  he is considerate.  he is funny.  he is a big teddy bear.  :)
that’s my view for all of our road trips… that smile and saying funny stuff to me all the time.

my girls learned to play card games at camp… in particular… they learned to play B.S.
talby calls it Bologna Slices.
and that brought a whole new element to vacation.
jake and abby already knew how to play.
it was so funny listening to them try to trick each other.
now that our kids have all gotten older – they all sleep in!
and they make their own breakfasts!
and even have dance parties in the kitchen.
i like big kids!

the dads leave super early every morning and go golfing.
(whatever… that sounds horrible to me!)
then jenny and i get up hours later and make coffee and sit outside to talk.
and slowly slowly slowly the kids wake up one at a time and peek out to say good morning.
then they would each go back to their electronic device of choice leaving us to talk some more.
around lunch time the dads come back and we all head to the beach.
skipping rocks is a vacation must.IMG_1294
jake brought his Spikeball game.
My kids had seen it on shark tank and were excited to play.


more vacation to come… but this is already long enough.


Sabrina - Your vacations give me hope!! Every year for the past five years since we’ve been married, we go to Michigan. And every year we seem to add a new kid. 😉 We now have 3 boys under the age of 5 and it does NOT feel like a vacation. Yes, it’s fun to see family and friends and go to the beach and play. But vacationing with a baby, toddler and a preschooler is brutal. The struggle is real.

Katie - Looks like so much fun!!

Stephanie - Wow. That actually sounds like vacation. Some day! Thanks for sharing this!

marcie - The house may not have been great but “location, location, location!!” So beautiful. I haven’t been to Michigan or the lakes since I was young (Southern gal) but it looks fabulous. And get Talby a modeling gig – or lock her up for a few years LOL – what a pretty young lady!!!

Toni :0) - I live in Michigan and love the St. Joseph area. We’ve stayed many times. We are in Empire right now just south of Sleeping Bear and it’s cold, rainy and cloudy. So not beachy weather and we are sorely bummed out. Must have bought a boogie board and beach cart and can’t use any of it. :0( Glad you had nice weather on your vacation.

Talia - What a great trip! Looks like it was loads of fun.

Lynette - Sounds like a fabulous vacation. you’ve inspired me to be more intentional about planning a vacation with my family next summer!

jamie - doesn’t lake michigan just make your heart skip a beat? the hubs and i had a rare overnight alone so we drove straight down US12 west three hours from our house {we live right off of US12} and stayed in new buffalo. famous burgers {for me} and fabulous breweries {for the hubs}. we found off the beaten path little towns with great shops and beautiful trails in the middle of the forest. so happy you enjoy michigan!

jamie - and if you haven’t been to saugatuk or grand haven, you really must. you will fall in deep love.

Laura in Sacto - Amazing and dreamy pictures! Coffee, blanket and that view! Amazeballs.

Kimberlee Jost - That picture of Dave and Jenny om the shoreline is gold. Blow that up and mail it to them for the anniversary. BEAUTIFUL.

Becky - I used to live in St. Joseph, MI! It is beautiful there but the winters were COLD! We rarely swam in the Lake because the lake temp was never really that warm. We worked near the lighthouse and would eat our lunches there. Loved the drive into Chicago and stopping at all the local art galleries along the way. The sand dunes along the shore line were also awesome. It has been almost 20 years so I’m sure it has changed quite a bit, but it brings back great memories!

Susan - I’m a Lake Girl who loves Michigan Lakes! You have to go to Traverse City it’s a Michigan must. Do you look for beach glass on vacation? We love the hunt!

Katie - We live here and love it!!

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#followfriday – part 2

Here are a few more of my favorite Instagrammers!
none of them know i am doing this and it’s in no way a promotional thing.
i just really like IG and all the cool people and photos and organizations on it!


– Homegrown in the Heartland
this girl can paint!
i love her style… her design… her artwork… her eye!
i mean COME ON!! look at her journal?!
she’s amazeballs.

i don’t know a thing about this feed other than it’s BEAUTIFUL!
every photo is so happy!
i want to climb in and BE in these pictures!
i want to live in a rainbow striped building.
i want to walk in red doors!
i wish everything around me looked like this.
i mean that.
THIS is what our neighborhoods should look like… down with beige!!


– Offering HOPE, healthier lives & freedom from foot-related diseases through education, jobs & medical relief.
i want more and more of africa.
i love to see pictures everyday of love being shown there.
this organization is doing great work!
i enjoy seeing their daily lives and what goes on.
– Makers of iconic lighting, furnishings and tools for productive living.
everything they post is pretty.
enough said.

– American expats in London.  We talk funny. 
i love her photography!
her ability to frame a shot is perfection.
and she’s in london!
so it all cool… every picture is just so cool!
(i know her in real life also… :))

cheryl mimken - Love that you featured Sole Hope. It is a wonderful organization! A couple from our church, the Collie’s, starting it in Asheville, NC, several years ago and then moved to Uganda with it a couple of years ago. My daughter, Grace, lived there at the Sole Hope compound last summer for several weeks, serving with Sole Hope and orphanages in Jinja. They are doing AMAZING work! <3

Stephanie - Africa touches me too. Love all those beautiful, smiling faces.

Jen Dahl - @angrybaker is by far my favorite IG feed EVER. I just spent the greatest hour of my week so far scrolling through it.

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